6 Ways to Maximize Your Thrift Shop Excursion

With Goodwill and the Salvation Army less than a 10 minute drive from the UMass Amherst campus, it’s amazing that these thrift stores aren’t always jam-packed with students. This could be because the students are--shock--in class or studying, but it also could be because they’re unaware of the gems hidden in their own backyard. 

In the event that you’ve never ventured to these off-campus locations, or aren’t completely sure of the best ways to thrift, let me offer you a few helpful tips. 

#1 Go with friends.

Not only can friends add another element of fun, but they can also provide a voice of reason to potential purchases. Making sure you stick to a budget (yes, even for thrifting), and only buy clothes you will actually wear to keep your wallet and closet in check. 

Bonus tip: If everyone in your crew has a different size or style, they can keep an eye out for each other to take advantage of personalized bargains! 

#2 Know your discount days.

Knowing the discount days can equate to time spent on one trip instead of several, and savings on top of the already low prices. On Wednesday at the Salvation Army, select color tags are displayed to indicate half-price items across the store. 

Bonus tip: If you want even more bang for your buck, get there early on Wednesday (Salvation Army opens at 9 AM, Goodwill at 10 AM) to get first dibs on the sale items!

#3 Check for stains, rips, or other defects.

While it is easy to get excited over a new piece of clothing, it’s important to note that the articles may not be in perfect condition. Depending on the amount of damage, you may find yourself capable of patching some holes, or sewing on a button. Or you may find the faults are beyond your control. Regardless, you should be informed of what you’re spending your money on.  

Bonus tip: Trying on clothes in front of a mirror gives you a new view of the item and could allow you to see imperfections you might’ve missed!

#4 Shop off-season. 

Just like retail stores, some of the best prices can be found off-season. There can be a greater selection and the items are reasonably priced! 

Bonus tip: Living in a 5 College area, some of the “seasons” may be dictated by school breaks. Students who travel far distances may not be able to pack all of their belongings before heading home, resulting in an abundance of donations. The wider selections before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and summer break could be just what your wardrobe needs! 

#5 Keep an open mind. 

While thrift shopping, the same item usually isn’t seen twice. Keeping your mind open to all kinds of jeans, tops, books, and furniture can prevent you from being disappointed.

Bonus tip: Explore the whole store. Venture into sections you might not usually gravitate to. Through the years, I have purchased several men’s t-shirts and sweatshirts that I wouldn’t have found if I had just stayed in the women’s section.

#6 Clean your closet out before you go. 

Thrifting is an excellent way to support the local community in an eco-friendly way. As a consumer it’s vital that you keep the cycle of goodness going. In addition to bringing items into your house, make sure you clean some out as well. 

Bonus tip: Whenever you go to shop, bring a box of items with you to donate!


Images: All images are courtesy of the author